Server difficulties have put a hamper on NBA Weekly following the All-Star break, the last edition coming on February 19th.
We’ll get back to the basics with the Power Six, Game of the Week, Playoff Picture, Stat of the Week, Rookie Watch and MVP Update after touching on a few of the happenings the past few weeks.
Since the last NBA Weekly, the Toronto Raptors, Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics have clinched playoff berths. The Sacramento Kings, Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks have been eliminated.
The hottest team in the NBA is the Portland Trail Blazers with nine straight victories. The Grizzlies have the longest losing streak at 17 games.
Anthony Davis has been on an absolute tear. He’s had games of 45 points and 17 rebounds, 53 and 18, 41 and 13 and a 25/11/10 block triple-double since the last NBA Weekly, placing himself in the MVP race and catapulting the New Orleans Pelicans to the fourth spot in the Western Conference. He averaged 35 points and 13 rebounds in February.
Along with the spectacle that is AD, it’s worth mentioning the other 40-plus games that have occurred from February 22 through March 12 before getting started with the Power Six. The list includes Stephen Curry (44), Damian Lillard (40), James Harden (41, 40), Devin Booker (40), Russell Westbrook (43), DeMar DeRozan (42) and Kevin Durant (40).
1. Houston Rockets (52-14). Last rankings: 1st.
The first of four easy choices to be among the top of the Power Six. Coming off a 17-game winning streak, Houston is the first team in the West to secure a playoff berth. Many still deem the Warriors as the favorites to win the title. The Rockets have been just as good all season.
2. Golden State Warriors (51-16). Last rankings: 2nd.
Somewhat weird not seeing the Warriors dominate every headline. Maybe it’s part of their plan en route to another championship. Stephen Curry’s ankle issues are definitely not part of the plan. Assuming he comes back healthy, they will be fine. They still might find a way to be fine without him with this roster of All-Stars.
3. Toronto Raptors (49-17). Last rankings: 3rd.
After the Boston Celtics jumped out to a quick stranglehold on the East, the Raptors have slowly wrangled it away. The regular season is usually not a problem for Toronto though. Maybe they’re ready for the playoffs this year, which they’ve already clinched a berth to.
4. Boston Celtics (46-21). Last rankings: 4th.
The last of the four teams clearly ahead of the pack. The next closest team to the Celtics is 5.5 games behind. Having said that, the Celtics are now 3.5 games behind the Raptors. If they aren’t careful, they could find themselves closer to the pack than with the alpha dogs.
5. Portland Trail Blazers (40-26). Last rankings: unranked.
Maybe the biggest surprise since the last NBA Weekly nearly a month ago. Riding a nine-game winning streak, Portland has moved into the third spot in the West and have the fifth best record in the league. Many teams are right behind them in the playoff race so things could change quickly, but as of right now, they deserve to be included here.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (38-28). Last rankings: 5th.
Sorry Pacers fans. The Pacers have a better win percentage than the Cavaliers right now, and Cleveland has not been playing well, but they have the best player in the world and that keeps them in the Power Six.
Dropped from rankings: Minnesota Timberwolves.
Game of the Week
Pick and choose among games between teams currently in the third through eighth spot in the Eastern or Western Conference. Only 3.5 games separate these seeds in each conference. Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. and Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday at 10:30 p.m. are some good choices.
- Toronto Raptors-x
- Boston Celtics-x (3.5 GB)
- Indiana Pacers (10.5 GB)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (11 GB)
- Washington Wizards (11.5 GB)
- Philadelphia 76ers (12.5 GB)
- Miami Heat (13.5 GB)
- Milwaukee Bucks (14 GB)
In the hunt: Detroit Pistons (19 GB), Charlotte Hornets (20.5 GB).
- Houston Rockets-x
- Golden State Warriors (1.5 GB)
- Portland Trail Blazers (12 GB)
- New Orleans Pelicans (14 GB)
- Minnesota Timberwolves (14 GB)
- Oklahoma City Thunder (14 GB)
- San Antonio Spurs (15 GB)
- Los Angeles Clippers (15.5 GB)
In the hunt: Denver Nuggets (15.5 GB), Utah Jazz (15.5 GB).
x-clinched playoff berth
Stat of the Week: Assist Leaders (per game)
- Russell Westbrook, OKC, 10.1
- LeBron James, CLE, 9.0
- James Harden, HOU, 8.8
- Chris Paul, HOU, 8.0
- Rajon Rondo, NO, 7.6
Rookie Watch: Bam Adebayo
After being drafted with the 14th pick out of Kentucky, Adebayo has contributed on a Miami Heat team that is in the thick of the playoff race in the Eastern Conference. The 6’10, 255-pound physical specimen has played in 57 games and started 12. He’s averaging 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.6 blocks and 0.5 steals in 19.7 minutes per game. He also did this.
- James Harden
- LeBron James
- Anthony Davis
- Stephen Curry
- Damian Lillard
Anthony Davis nearly jumped to the two spot but after looking at LeBron’s season statistics after realizing he’s averaging 9.0 assists per game I had to keep him there. Harden’s success and statistics are unmatchable this season. Stephen Curry fell some because he suffered another ankle injury. Damian Lillard was added while DeMar DeRozan is about as close behind as one can get.
See you next week.